The Madhouse kids have always loved helping out in the kitchen. The girls are often far too busy these days doing tween and teen stuff to get hands-on but Pierre is still very enthusiastic when it comes to baking up sweet treats or, more recently, getting involved in helping cook dinner. I always think that cooking is one of the most important life-skills that parents can pass on to their kids, so I'm very happy to see how much he enjoys it.
We recently received a new child-oriented recipe book to review called Cool Kids Cook by Jenny Chandler. It promises "50 recipes for real family food that will teach children the vital cooking skills to set them up for life" and targets children aged 7 upwards.
It takes what I would call a holistic approach to cooking, giving not only the recipes but also lots of useful advice about healthy eating, sensible shopping, kitchen safety and chopping skills, to make your kids think about the wider implications of what they put on their plates and into their bellies.
The recipes are divided into categories : Kick Start Your Day (tasty breakfasts and brunches), Cool Stuff (picnics and packed lunches), Bowl Food (dishes to spoon and slurp), Hot Favourites (fancy dinners to simple suppers), Bountiful Baking (savoury bread and teatime treats) and Just Desserts (sweet endings).
There is a definite focus on healthy food, so you'll find things like smoothies and granola, salads involving healthy leaves and grains, soups and stir-fries, sweet treats such as chocolate & beetroot muffins or cheesy courgette & sweetcorn muffins... Some of the recipes leapt out at me as things I'd like to try - Grilled Salmon with Honey, Soy & Orange Marinade, Indian Lentil & Tomato Dal, Vietnamese Pork Meatballs, Elderflower Jelly, ... - but would they appeal to children?
Well, there was only one way to find out ! I had a flick through to see what we could make with what was in the cupboards and opted for a simple recipe for Super-Speedy Bean & Tuna Salad, which involved mixing red onion, canned beans, sweetcorn and tuna with balsamic vinegar, parsley and oil. I wasn't sure Pierre would be keen - he's not a great fan of tuna at the best of times and balsamic vinegar is an acquired taste - so I was surprised to see him helping himself to several tastes from the bowl as he was mixing it all together ! I'd prepared some baked potatoes in case the bean salad wasn't a hit, but in the end, everyone tucked into both. It's certainly a healthier version to the usual tuna, sweetcorn and mayonnaise and it was just as popular, so I'll definitely be trying out some of the other recipes tfrom the book hat I initially passed by to see how they are received.
The instructions are simple to follow with lots of photos so they are very child-friendly, although some do involve blending, chopping and using the hob which require adult supervision.
There are some family favourites in there that are sure to be crowd pleasers that we can start off with - fruit crumble, chocolate cake, chilli con carne, twice baked potatoes, ... - but I also want to get the kids to be more adventurous and use ingredients (such as quinoa or sardines) that they may be less familiar with.
Many children's cookbooks limit themselves to baking or "kid food", such as healthy twists on pizza and chicken nuggets, so it's great to find a child-oriented recipe book for food that the whole family can sit down and eat together.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £14.99
Disclosure : We received the book in order to write an honest review.